Can thinking affect brain
Stress from negative thinking creates changes in the brain that may affect your likelihood of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, schizophrenia and mood disorders. … The problem is that our brains are good at learning from bad experiences but bad at learning from good experiences.
Over centuries, our amazing brain has evolved to make decisions and respond quickly to threats for our safety and survival. When we stress, worry or have negative thinking, we trick our brains into believing that there is an immediate threat. As a result, our fight or flight response kicks in to deal with the event.
Our brains are pre-wired to respond to negative thoughts and feelings more quickly. When we think positively, our brain assumes that everything is under control and no action is needed.
But, we have to ask ourselves, how much of the stress, worry and negative thoughts we think today are actually life threatening? Recent studies show that psychological stress is causing an overuse of this powerful safety system, weakening our immune system and causing disease to set into our body. Yikes, negative thinking is causing more harm to our bodies and brain than we realize.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology studied the effects of worrying on performing a task. Subjects were required to sort things into two categories. People who reported that they worry 50% of the time or more showed a significant disruption in their ability to sort objects as the difficulty of the sorting task increased.
In a follow up study, researchers found they were able to show that demonstrated that the disruption was a result of increased levels of negative thoughts. When the brain is faced with complex tasks, negative thinking hurts your ability to process information and think clearly.
If the researchers are correct, thinking negatively about your problems not only doesn’t help solve anything, it actually makes it harder for you to think of a helpful solution. You can read more about how thinking positively affects your brain health here.
The thalamus is responsible to sending sensory and motor signals to the rest of the body but it does not understand that negative thoughts aren’t the same as real danger. When you think negative thoughts, the thalamus assumes that it needs to prepare the body to flee. As a result, our bodies experience real stress symptoms of rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and a state of heightened arousal.
Imagine just sitting quietly and suddenly having the physical symptoms of fear. You can sense your heart rate increase, your breathing increases, you perspire, and your blood pressure goes up. You start looking for the cause of the symptoms, but when there is no rational explanation for the fear response it is the thalamus causing you to have a panic attack.
Negative thoughts affect our brain by triggering this same stress response. Chronic stress affects the body physically and can have negative effects on our health and well-being.